Recap: The Amazing Race 34, Episode 1 – “Many Firsts But Don’t Be Last”
The 12 new teams hop on a log raft in Wolfratshausen to take them down the Isar River to Munich and the Starting Line for the 34th season at Nymphenburg Palace. Phil welcomes teams and says there will be many firsts, such as the first Starting Line outside the United States. And also the introduction of the Scramble, which allows teams to complete all the tasks on this Leg in any order they want. There will also be no Non-Elimination Legs this season.
Phil flags them off and the teams run to their bags to open the first clue. That clue reveals the locations of the three tasks: Roll at Luitpold Park, Saw at Biergarten Seehaus and Smash at Augustiner-Keller Biergarten. Teams will find out what the tasks are once they drive to the locations.
Each team has a different strategy on how to attack this Scramble. Engaged couple Aastha & Nina, who map out the entire Leg with the help of locals, end up leaving the Starting Line in last.
Military brothers Marcus & Michael get to the Roll task first and learn they must roll a beer keg through a slalom course within 55 seconds in order to receive one piece of the Pit Stop clue. They fail their first attempt, but pass on their second.
BB couple Derek & Claire, Childhood Sweethearts Abby & Will and Ballroom Dancers Aubrey & David are next to arrive at Roll. But only Derek & Claire pass on their 1st attempt. The other two pass on their 2nd attempts.
Motivational Speakers Rich & Dom arrive at the Saw task first and learn they must saw through a log to the beat of Bavarian music.
Long-lost Twins Emily & Molly arrive at Smash and discover it is a Road Block: Who wants to chill? For this Road Block, teams must smash an ice block to retrieve the clue piece inside. Married Luis & Michelle arrive right behind them followed by Newlyweds Glenda & Lumumba and Former Rams Cheerleaders Quinton & Mattie.
While Aastha & Nina and Golf Buddies Tim & Rex are a bit lost, Linton & Sharik arrive at the Saw task where Rich & Dom are still working at. The Father/Daughter end up passing them as they find the right rhythm to efficiently saw.
Aastha & Nina and Tim & Rex arrive at the Smash task and quickly finish their first tasks.
At this point in the episode, Marcus & Michael, Glenda & Lumumba, Derek & Claire, Emily & Molly, Quinton & Mattie and Linton & Sharik have completed two of the tasks. All the other teams have only completed one.
Derek & Claire reach the Smash task and Derek quickly gets through to their third and final clue. Putting the three pieces together, they are firmly in 1st place and are directed to the Pit Stop at the Friedensengel.
Over at Roll, Rich & Dom overcome some frustration to pass the task on their 4th attempt.
Derek & Claire officially step on Mat as Team #1 and win $2500 each. Glenda & Lumumba finish 2nd. Quinton & Mattie are Team #3.
All the other teams have finally completed their third tasks and are all heading for the Pit Stop.
Linton & Sharik and Emily & Molly are Teams 4 and 5. Marcus & Michael and Tim & Rex are 6th and 7th. Abby & Will and Rich & Dom are right behind them to take 8th and 9th. Luis & Michelle is Team #10.
It’s down to the last two teams and Aubrey & David survive as Team #11. Aastha & Nina are last and eliminated.
After an underwhelming TAR Canada 8 and a clusterfrak that is TAR Australia 6, it is very refreshing to have as close to a sense of normalcy with TARUS and its 34th season.
Of course, this first episode wasn’t the “normal” TAR Leg. The Scramble is an interesting idea. Though it certainly sounds familiar. The recently concluded TARPHDME22 did a similar thing where teams were given a list of four “checkpoints” from which they would collect four separate clues that they would need to hold on to until further notice. Teams could find these checkpoints in any order they choose and at any point during the Leg that they choose. 😁
I kinda like my way better. Lol The Scramble was a bit of a mess, but kudos for trying something different with a new thing in a way that isn’t horribly offensive like the way they’ve implemented U-Turn Voting or the Head-to-Head.
The best part of the Scramble is the fact that teams have no idea where they are with respect to other teams. They just have to focus on themselves. And perhaps that can also help fight against potential alliances too. Unless teams will just hold each other’s hands to every location together.
The bad part of the Scramble is exactly the same thing. We the audience also have no idea where teams are with respect to each other. We don’t get a sense of how teams are doing and we just have to rely on the final couple of minutes to figure out who is in danger of being eliminated.
The feeling of not getting a sense of time is not exclusive to a Scramble though. Other TARs have had trouble with it. TARAu6 currently, as an example, struggles with this as they have to shuffle through 41 teams in an hour.
So while the Scramble is good in a competition sense, it presents a challenge in the TV viewing sense. You get kind of lost. But maybe some people like that.
As for the tasks themselves, they were all simple Active Route Info tasks, to be honest. Not the most exciting tasks. But definitely tasks you would have in a succession like they did here. The Roll and Smash tasks probably took less than five minutes. And the Saw maybe the longest task, but easy if you knew how to control your rhythm.
Fun to see the Friedensengel as the Pit Stop. As someone who’s watched TAR3 numerous times, I definitely know that location. Lol
Anyway, as for the other “first” of this season, it’s interesting how they keep talking about there being no Non-Elimination Legs. Which would mean there would only be ten Legs this Race. Yet, last month, they revealed the 12 Pit Stop locations:
And they made a point to say it was ALL the Pit Stop locations. So there’s 12 Pit Stops, but not all of them will have eliminations. I think most fans know that a few of the Legs will be Keep on Racing Legs. Not even the MegaLeg that they introduced in TAR32 because that Leg didn’t have a Pit Stop. It would have to be a Keep on Racing Leg where Phil hands teams the next clue.
This is one thing that’s always annoyed me. Keep on Racing Legs are basically no-penalty Non-Elimination Legs. That is the only distinction between KOR Legs and Non-Elims.
Anyway, it really seems like TAR34 took inspiration from TARPHDME22. That season had 12 Legs with two Non-Elimination Legs. However, teams were told at the Starting Line that the two Non-Elimination Legs would be that first Leg and the Penultimate Leg. Legs 2 through 10 all ended with an elimination. That’s nine consecutive elimination Legs. No SuperLegs. No KOR Legs. 😅
So I would say that it’s a bit misleading for them to say that there’s no Non-Eliminations this season. There will still be 12 episodes and 12 Pit Stops. So two of those Legs and episodes will end with no elimination somehow.
Elsewhere this episode, I thought it was awesome to see them include this shot of the crew at the start of the episode:
The Race has always been careful (almost TOO careful) to avoid showing the cameraman (or woman!) and sound technician in shots. But it’s been great to see them popping up here and there in recent seasons. And finally, getting them all in the shot like this is great and a reminder that every team is a team of four. And that these men and women do such amazing work to have to keep up with the teams while still ensuring they get the best sights and sounds.
Overall, a solid premiere. It was a bit all over the place thanks to the Scramble. But it’s new and different enough to give the show something to feel refreshing with.
A solid cast. It’s nice to have 12 teams again after such a long time. AND with no Starting Line or mid-Leg elimination to compensate for it.
I’m definitely rooting for Emily & Molly. What a great story and I think they will be fun to watch compete.
What a shock it was to learn Rex Ryan was on the Race. I never would’ve expected it, but it’ll be fun to see how he Races. Now about Mike Leach on TAR though? That would be AMAZING.
And finally, the last time I watched Big Brother was last year. And I stopped about a few weeks in specifically because of the gross vitriol being hurled at Derek Xiao by the toxic fandom. Disgusting things like “he’s as good as white” (in a derogatory way) or “he’s not a POC” which then morphed into worse things like “Asians are basically white” or “Asians are not POC” or “Asians are not a minority.” Basically, horribly racist anti-Asian things being thrown around and liked and retweeted by a frightening number of people in the BB fandom.
Anyway, while there’s a bit of cynicism in CBS casting Derek as if he’s the only Asian-American person they know, I am happy that he is getting a lot of CBS money because the network has not been very good with casting Asian and Asian-American people on all their shows, to be honest.
I don’t know much about Claire, because for the time I watched BB23, she wasn’t really a big personality. I was actually rooting for a Derek & Travis TAR team. lol. But good for Derek & Claire. And I’ll be rooting for them as well.